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Criticism over plans for in-person inauguration event for DFL senators

A handful of newly elected state senators are slated to attend the Jan. 5 event.

A plan to hold an in-person inauguration event for some newly elected Minnesota DFL senators is being criticized amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The state Department of Administration (ADM) granted a permit (see it at the bottom of the page) from the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (MAS-MN) to host the Jan. 5 event marking the inauguration of "a few" new Minnesota senators. 

The permit lists the estimated number of attendees at 100. According to posts on social media, the ceremony will celebrate the inauguration of Mary Kunesh-Podein, Jennifer McEwen, Erin Murphy, Lindsey Port, Ann Johnson Stewart, Omar Fateh and Aric Putnam. 

"While the Senate is offering a virtual swearing-in ceremony option, the Senate DFL is not hosting any formal in-person celebration ceremonies. Individual members may decide and coordinate their own but we expect and they have committed to follow all CDC and MDH guidelines as well as comply with the governor's executive orders," a Senate DFL spokesperson told Axios' Torey Van Oot.

This event does not violate Gov. Tim Walz's executive order, which allows outdoor events with up to 100 people so long as social distancing rules are followed, per an ADM spokesperson.

It has however sparked criticism, including from Democrats, who say the event should be canceled. While it doesn't violate rules on outdoor events, some are pointing out that Gov. Walz's current order also has limits on social gatherings, permitting a maximum of 15 people from three households outdoors.

"While their plan doesn't technically break any rules for outdoor events, it's completely unnecessary and undermines efforts to get Minnesotans to take the virus and mitigation efforts seriously," an anonymous source in the Walz Administration said, according to Blois Olson's Morning Take newsletter.

This comes after the DFL for months criticized GOP lawmakers for not taking COVID-19 seriously and not following the state's mitigation guidelines, including holding events such as a post-election party where several lawmakers are believed to have contracted COVID-19, as well as their plans in January to hold a winter retreat in South Dakota, where there are fewer COVID-19 restrictions.

Bring Me The News has reached out to the Muslim American Society of Minnesota for comment. 

It is one of several outdoor events given permits in January by the Minnesota Department of Administration, with others including a "Storm the Capitol" rally on Jan. 6, and the MCCL March for Life on Jan. 22.

Here's the permit the Minnesota Department of Administration granted: 

The permit for the inauguration event, provided by the Minnesota Department of Administration.

The permit for the inauguration event, provided by the Minnesota Department of Administration.

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